When I was a little kid, every couple of years my mother and granny would pool their resources to take the four of us on a mighty 48 hour vacation. Our destination? Driving two hours north to … drum roll … stay over-night in a motel (!) and cram as many hours as humanly possible roaring through Disneyland.
My brother and I would always be so full of anticipation the night before that we could barely sleep. And then, when every ride had been ridden at least twice and our fingers were prunes from hours in the motel pool, we’d drive home to San Diego in my mom’s rattle trap ’51 blue Ford. My brother would sleep like the dead. And me? My little self alternated between vivid, thrilling memories and utter remorse that it was over.
Who knew at 62 I would have my own Disneyland experience?
On Mother’s Day, I held the “E” ticket in my hot little hand as a proud member of Portland’s first production of “Listen To Your Mother,” a 32 city, nationwide network of shows that “give motherhood a microphone.” I joined thirteen wonderful women, each of us writers, to share very personal stories about our experiences with motherhood. It was nothing short of amazing.
Our stories were all over the messy map of motherhood, from being young, single and pregnant to finding oneself outnumbered by offspring. A powerful story of divorce survival moved many and the audience roared listening to one mother’s adventures delicately teaching her children about sex, thank you Mr. Potato Head. (The entire show was videotaped and will be on the national LTYM/YouTube “channel” mid-summer. I’ll keep you posted.)
Obviously, the show itself was one of those life-altering experiences for me. But it was the behind-the-scenes take-away that will also stay in my memory for a good long time. What made it so special — from the most enjoyable audition I have ever experienced (who gets a rose and hugs from a director and producer at an audition?) — through rehearsals, and the performance itself, was the seamless way we all got along.
Surely, having our talented director, Carisa Miller and our fearless producer, Kelli Martinelli set the tone from day one, was a great beginning. They were warm and supportive, empathetic, direct, and incredibly funny.
But really, this could have been a nightmare. Stop for a moment and think about the enormous task at hand. Now think about all of the estrogen, creative egos, and sleep deprived mothers collaborating on an anxiety producing theatrical production. Nightmare, right?
Here’s the best part. There was no competition among us, nor egos bursting at the seams. Not one prima-donna could be found! Know-it-alls were nonexistent.
NO, instead it was a what women do best: collaborate, foster positive relationships, communicate effectively (okay, and a lot), support, encourage, and laugh. (Yes, there was plenty of laughing!)
One-by-one, we would take that stage, stare out into the dark theater full of people and begin, knowing that behind us stood a group of supportive women cheering us on.
And as each of us returned to the ‘Green Room’ after our reading, we were greeted with hugs and high-fives, fist bumps and smiles. (It’s probably a good thing we had to be quiet because I can just imagine the lady screams of unbridled enthusiasm that could have been resonating from that room!)
Once again, taking a risk proved to be very rewarding. I have to be honest, when I first read about LTYM, I wondered if I might be too old for this show. Why? All I could find were much younger women who had participated. But I’m not a believer in letting age stop me from positive experiences. No, it was all steam ahead and boy, am I glad I made that decision.